Finding Me in You

By K-chan

AN: Wahaha!  I finally finished this!  Go me!  It is a Malik/Tea so don't flame me for it!  I really like this fic.. its good! I hope you do too!

If I get in the mood I might write an alternate ending.. a lemony alternate ending ;)

Tea sighed, shifting in her seat so stare out the window of the bus.  Staring at the bleak and dry Israeli landscape wasn't the most exciting activity in the world, but there was nothing else to do.

Her trip thus far had been extremely long and tedious.  She could only get a flight to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.  From there she had to catch many different buses to the Suez Canal where she had to get on a final bus to Cairo.  Then travel on foot until she found what she was looking for.

Until she found him.

Images of a violet-eyed, blond haired boy flashed in front of her eyes.  She shook her head trying desperately to clear her mind of the images and their accompanying thoughts.  Her eyes closed, cutting off the threatening flow of tears.  No, she would not think of him.  Not now.  Not until she got some clue as to where he was.

It had been five years since Kaiba's Battle City tournament.  Everyone had moved on to bigger and better things.  Joey married Mai the weekend after the group graduated and were now expecting their first child.  The yami's were granted a second chance at own life.  Yugi went college to jet a business degree, while Yami helped grandpa with the shop.  Ryou was admitted a year after they graduated to Tokyo University and was now studying to be a pediatrician –he still wrote her frequently.  His yami disappeared shortly after he and Ryou were separated, taking the ring with him.  Tristan got into mechanics and was now traveling with the Japanese motor cross team.  Serenity managed to worm her way into Kaiba's cold heart and now wore a ten-carat diamond promise ring her left hand –she was still in senior year of high school- and Mokuba adored her.

All of her friends were happy.  She was the only miserable one.  She wondered idly if of them worried over her disappearance.  The only one who knew was the one that financed her trip.

Kaiba.  Why he agreed to let her go, with his money, was beyond her.  Kaiba had come along way since getting involved with Serenity.  Perhaps he realized how important the trip was to Tea.

Ryou would know soon as well, she had mailed him a letter the day before at one of the rest stops.  He would, no doubt inform the others,  But he would understand better than anyone –except it seemed Kaiba- why she had to go.  Ryou was just like that.  Tea had suspicions that the albino man was empathic.  It was after all, him that noticed the change in her after Battle City, after he vanished.  Ryou became her pillar of support and they became so close the others believed they were together.  But they knew the truth.

The truth that she was in love with someone else.

But who can decide what they dream? And dream I do…

She was back in Battle City, back in the warehouse store room she and Mokuba had been thrown in…only Mokuba wasn't there.  It was also almost pitch black, the sun must have set as no light shone through the window she knew was there.  But that wasn't the strange part.  The strange part was that she could not remember anything after she was shoved into the room.  It just wouldn't come.  Flopping down onto the cold cement floor she wondered how she was going to get out of the chilly storage room.

"Hello Tea."

Tea's head snapped up to peer into the darkness, looking for the source of the voice.  Shadows gathered as a dark figure materialized in front of her.

Standing over her, something in the figure's hand began to glow, shedding light onto the two.  Tea gasped as the soft gold glow revealed a handsome blond teenager with tanned skin and captivating purple eyes.  He was holding what appeared to be a Millennium item.

"Namu…" She whispered, her eyes wide.  However the name seemed wrong somehow.  It didn't seem wrong when she and Joey met him in the street, so why now?

A low chuckling sounded from the back of his throat as he kneeled down in front of her.  The hand holding the Millennium item –a gold pointy stick with a ball with wings on the end- came up towards her face, the cold, glowing metal brushing her cheek until it slipped past and was replaced by warm fingers.  His other hand slipped up her arm, settling on the side of her neck.  He jerked her forward suddenly and Tea fell towards him, her hands landing on his shoulders for support, her face inches from his.

His lips were on hers then, smoothly coaxing a reaction out of her.  Tea melted against him, lips parting in unconscious invitation.  He took the incitement, sliding his tongue into her mouth to massage her mouth sensually.  She moaned against his mouth, moving her arms to wrap firmly around his neck, her hands running down his back.

He smirked against her mouth, pushing her back, his arms pulling back from her head and settling at her waist.  He lay her down gently underneath him, breaking the kiss only to breathe.  He did, however, manage to tear his mouth from hers to trail burning kisses down her jaw.  His tongue darted out as he licked and nipped at her upper neck and earlobe.

Tea moaned again and buried her fingers in his long silky hair, craning her neck to give him better access.

"Do you want me…" He whispered huskily in her ear.

"Yes…" She hissed, beginning to pant with want.

A smirk curled his lips again as he took her earlobe between his teeth, biting down softly.

"Very well…" He rasped, "But I'm not Namu…"

"Miss?  Miss, we have arrived at the Canal." An older woman said, shaking Tea awake.

Tea opened her eyes, blinking away sleep rapidly.  What a dream that had been!  A bright flush crossed her cheeks as she remembered the vivid images of what had taken place.  What a dream indeed!

"Lady, you have to get off now!"

Tea turned her startled cerulean eyes to the bus driver who was glaring at her.  She smiled apologetically, not really sure why the man was glaring, she after all didn't speak much Arabic and that's what he was speaking.  She only knew the few words she managed to memorize from the pocket dictionary she had bought in Jerusalem.

Quickly grabbing the duffle bag that contained her clothes from the over head rack, she picked up her backpack and scurried off the bus, muttering a quick 'thank you' in poorly pronounced Arabic.

Three days later Tea found herself standing in a busy Egyptian bazaar in the heart of Cairo.  She blew her sticky bangs out of her face and wiped her hand across her forehead.  Why'd it have to be so damn hot?  It was a good thing she had thought to dress appropriately –or so she thought anyway.

Her white denim shorts, short spaghetti strap tank and flip flop sandals brought her as many stares as her different ethnic background.  Tea sighed, taking a swig from a water canteen she had been advised to buy.  Where to start?

Flopping her backpack to the ground beside her duffle back, she pulled out a small picture before swinging it back up onto her back.  Picking up her other bag she started heading towards the ancient Temple of Ra that now served as a museum.  It was her best place to start.

"Have you seen this man?"  Tea asked a man dressed in employee clothing, showing him the small picture she had taken out of her backpack.

The small picture was all she had left of him, besides his name, and she had had to beg Kaiba to try and find her one.  He finally gave her a print out of his Battle City ID picture and told her that was it.

The man stared at her blankly, causing Tea to groan in frustration.

"Have…you…seen…this-" she pointed at the picture, "Man?"  Her English was slow and well pronounced.  She and Ryou had spent the year after graduation in America and both spoke the language fluently.

However, once again she was met with a blank face.  The man replied in Arabic with a shrug, walking away.  Tea stared after him before sighing dramatically, sitting down on a smooth stone bench.  Her search was going nowhere fast!  And worst part was she didn't have a clue where to look next.  She had only come to the museum because she figured someone may have seen him as his sister used to be curator there.  But it turned out that none of the employees spoke a word of English!

"Excuse me, may I help you?  Abasi said you are looking for someone?"

Tea looked up to see a beautiful Egyptian woman dress in a crisp cream pantsuit standing in front of her.  Sighing in relief, she stood and handed the picture to the woman.  Finally someone who spoke at least one of the languages she knew!  "Yes, have you seen this man?"

The woman looked at the picture, her eyes narrowing in thought.  "Well he looks familiar.  What is his name?"  She asked, tilting her head.

"Malik Ishtar."

The name hit a chord in the woman and her eyes widened.  "This is little Malik?  Wow, he has sure grown into a handsome young man!"  The woman looked up again, handing the picture back to Tea.  "I'm sorry to say however, that I haven't seen that young man since he was about seven years old."

Tea's hopes deflated, her shoulders lumping in defeat.  There went her best chance… "It's ok, thank you anyway."  She replied politely, picking up her bags and heading towards the exit.

"Oh Miss?" 

The woman's voice stopped Tea in her tracks and she turned back to face the woman, smiling respectfully.  "Yes?"

The woman stepped over to her and placed a hand on Tea's shoulder.  "It's obvious you care a great deal about him, and I wish I could help you more.  But you might try his home village of Dandarah.  I think if he is in fact in Egypt then I believe he would be there."

Tea's eyes lit up again.  "Really?  Where might Dandarah be?"  She asked eagerly.

"In the middle of the Arabian Desert."  The woman replied with a wink, chuckling as Tea face vaulted.  "Don't worry though, I can tell you how to get there, I'm from there myself.  Just catch a riverboat to Beni Suef then you'll have to hitch hike and walk the rest of the 150 kilometers west.  Ask someone when you get to Beni Suef."

The auburn haired young woman sighed and thanked the woman before continuing out of the museum.  She still had a long journey before her.

Tea stumbled, her feet becoming heavier the further she went.  She had been walking for days as no one went very far into the Arabian Desert very much.  She ran out of water hours back and was starting dehydrate.  Her vision was clouding and she was getting extremely panicked.  What if she passed out?  She would die!  Vanishing into the hot desert sands never to be found again.

No Tea, don't think like that!  You will make it to Dandarah and you will find him.  She thought to herself adamantly, forcing herself to think positive.

The problem was, she didn't have any clue how much farther she had.  She picked up a small map in Beni Suef, as well as a compass so she knew she was heading in the right direction but she didn't know how far she had come.  She just hoped it was far enough that she would reach the village soon, before she died.

Of course it hit her then that he might not even want to see her.

Tea stopped in her tracks, a sort of numb feeling washing over her.  What if he turned her away?  The whole trip would be for nothing and she would be heart broken!  Her eyes drifted shut, fear clenching her chest.  There were a whole lot of what ifs involved, but she had come this far and she was going to make it.  She would at least tell him how she felt!  Even if he didn't feel the same way.

She trudged for two more hours, weariness settling over her with every step.  Her vision began to go blurry and she could have sworn she saw a stream just ahead…  Sweat poured of her body and her mouth felt like sand paper.  She was severely dehydrated, she knew that, but could do nothing about it.  I'm going to die out here…

It was then that she squinted and saw something in the distance…something that looked like a building or some kind of sturdy tent.  She also noticed that the ground was firmer here and darkened to a dark tan color…almost the color of soil.  Walking further she caught sight of people working, they were digging, and as she neared and they became clear she froze in shock, dropping her belongings.

She had finally reached the village of Dandarah.  He was here. 

His bronze skin shone with perspiration, like the great son god himself.  His long white-blond hair was tied back in a ponytail to keep it off his sweating back and neck.  Shoulder and arm muscles flexed with power as he lifted shovel fulls of dirt and sand, tossing the debris onto an accumulating pile.  He was beautiful, laughing like he hadn't a care in the world.  He was perfect.

He was taller now; easily over six feet, and the obvious hard physical labour of living in a small village had filled his once wiry body out to a lean but muscular unit.  She would have drooled if she had any saliva left.  He moved with such grace that it was hard to believe God created such a perfect being.

Tea couldn't tear her eyes away from him and just watched him work, joking with his fellow workers, smiling a smile of real happiness.  A smile she had never seen at Battle City. 

Amidst her staring she didn't notice her bodies complete shut down and, just as he turned, finally taking notice of her standing a distance away –one of the other workers had pointed her out- she felt her eyes drift shut and herself black out.  At least she got to see him once more.

Cracking her eyes open, the first thing Tea saw was the canvas of a high roofed tent.  It was a dark tan and had streaks of dirt and grim running across it.  Where was she?  Oh right, she had reached Malik's village.  One of the villagers must have taken her in.  I wonder if Malik even noticed who I am…

Her back rested gently on a stuffed sleeping pallet on a raised platform.  A light sheet lay over her body, tucking neatly under her chin and a damp cloth covered her forehead.  Water…she needed water.

Turning her head slowly –she had a severe headache- she glanced around the tent, looking for its owner.  Her eyes landed on a strangely familiar figure, hunched over a small table, shoving food into his mouth. 

He was tall –maybe even more so than Malik- and had broad shoulders that were bare at the moment.  His white hair was cropped semi-short, falling to his ears and just above the back of his neck in layers and his bangs spiked out, two of them creating horn like projections on the side of his head.  Wait a minute… "Ba-Bakura?"  She croaked, her throat dry as dust.

The man turned his head slowly, chewing on a piece of bread as he did so.  Sure enough, as Tea's eyes met the man's dark crimson eyes, she had no doubts about the man's identity.  So that's where he disappeared to…

His eyes flashed dry amusement as he swallowed the bread and reached for the cup he had in front of his plate, watching her with keen crimson eyes.  Tea watched him down the contents of the cup, licking the last drops from his lips, his eyes never leaving her.  Her need for water intensified as she watched his actions silently.  He was teasing her!  The bastard!  "Wa-water!"  She pleaded, screwing up her face.

Bakura grunted, hauling himself to his feet.  Tea felt her eyes widen to the size of saucers as she took in his sheer size.  He was huge!  His shirtless chest spanned a greater width than she had seen on a man in a long time, hell his for arms were bigger than her thighs!  How did a part of scrawny little Ryou –who to be respectful had grown since high school- turn into this giant of a man?

He bent down, picking up a flask of something and refilled the cup he had been drinking out of.  Setting the flask down, he picked up the cup and stepped over to her bedside.  "Sit up and drink this.  Take only small sips, unless you want to die.  Which might be the case since you were in the middle of the desert with no water."  He said roughly, waiting for her to sit up.

Tea struggled to sit up.  Her body felt incredibly heavy, like she weighed a few hundred pounds.  Not to mention every bone in her body hurt.  Finally sitting herself up, she took the cup from the cup Bakura gave her, paying mind to the fact that he had drank from it first.  After the first sip however, she coughed, choking. 

"Bakura!  This is wine!"  She cried, wincing.

Bakura raised a white eyebrow and shrugged.  "Stupid girl.  It will help you over come the dehydration, its very light wine.  Besides," He said snorting, "We're out of water, Malik has gone to get more.  Now do as your told and sip it!"

Tea didn't have the strength to fight him and was pretty sure he knew more about dehydration than she did.  However, that didn't stop her from summoning the strength to roll her eyes.  She obediently began to sip the wine.

"How long were you with out water anyway?"  Bakura growled, plunking down in his vacated chair, picking up another piece of bread.

"I'm not really sure…I lost track of time after my third day in the desert… but I think I ran out of water this morning... so… about 7 hours?"  She replied, taking another sip.  The wine itself was actually very good, and sat in her stomach well.

He stared at her, an eyebrow cocking.  "You lasted that long?"  His eyes ran down her body appreciatively.  "You must be stronger than you look."

"Ack!  Pervert!"  She exclaimed, glaring.  "I'll have you know that I am plenty strong!  I did travel all the way here via plane, bus, hitch hiking and foot.  Do you realize I've been traveling for the better part of three weeks?"

Bakura's lips twitched into a smirk.  "Is that so?"  He stood again, walking over and plucking the almost empty cup from her hands, and pushing her back to lie down.  He downed the rest of the liquid before heading towards the tent entrance.

Tea's head hit the pillow and her eyes began to drift shut of their own accord.  She was so tired all of a sudden.  However, before she slipped away into unconsciousness she heard him sneer quietly, "Is he really worth it?"

Bakura stepped out of the large tent he and Malik called home.  His dark eyes surveyed the village he now lived in.  It was fair sized, not overly huge, but not greatly small.  With a population of about four thousand, the village of Dandarah was a prosperous place, especially for one so isolated.

Many people –mostly families- lived in the small huts and houses made of homemade sun-baked bricks.  Some people chose to live in tents, not unlike the one he and his best friend inhabited.  They were mostly single men or young couples that had not yet saved enough money to build their own house.  However, all the people who lived in Dandarah were completely dependant on the small river that flowed on the outskirts of the village.  It was their life source.

He had traveled back to Egypt after separating with his pathetic hikari having no wish to stay in the densely populated, technologically advanced country of Japan.  He was, and always would be Egyptian, and if he couldn't achieve his goals of world domination, then he would prefer to live in a quiet, rural, technological backwards village the rest of his second live.  Somewhere he didn't have to see the pharaoh's ugly face every time he went for a walk.  After leaving Japan, Bakura had met up with Malik in Cairo, which was kind of a fluke really considering how big the city is, and then decided to return to Malik's home village with him as it was small and met his requirements.  He had finally found somewhere he felt at home.  It reminded him very much of ancient Egypt –minus the trucks they drove to and from Beni Suef for supplies.

And that brought him back to the present.  Bakura smirked as he thought about the auburn haired woman that had practically fallen back into their laps.  The fact that she had managed to track Malik down was an amazing feat in Bakura's eyes.  The woman had tenacity.  He chuckled lowly.  She would fit right in here, and maybe she would chase away all the women that seemed to flock to their tent like bees to a hive.  While he didn't mind their presence –he was known to like a good romp now and then- Bakura knew his blond friend found the women a constant source of irritation.  He had always found it strange how Malik had no interest in any of the women that practically threw themselves at him, but he eventually found out why.  He also found out what Malik was doing with all the money he was making, as the blond was not going out and blowing it on alcohol and frivolous things.  He was saving to buy a house –or to make one- and to make a life and name for himself, cleanly with no tricks or mind games.  He could have easily possessed someone and gained riches that way, but for some reason he didn't.  A reason Bakura didn't understand until the auburn haired girl had shown up outside the village on the brink of death.  His friend's reaction told him everything he needed to know about why Malik never had any women, and why he was saving his money for a real house.

Bakura had never seen Malik in such a state of panic as he had when they discovered the girl was passed out, and not waking up.  He ignored everything and demanded someone go find the doctor, exclaiming to the doctor that he would pay anything, just so long as he helped her.  In fact it had been Bakura that calmed Malik down and ordered him out of the tent, sending him to fetch more water and some food from Lira –the older woman who had taken the two boys under her wing when they first arrived.  Of course, the blond wouldn't leave until Bakura promised he would watch over her, and not leave her side.  The albino snorted.  As if his presence would make a difference.  If the girl were going to die, she would die whether he was sitting beside her or not.  But try to tell that to a man in love.  Bakura sneered and rolled his eyes at the thought.  No one would ever catch him in that position.  He vowed if he ever fell to such a level then he would send himself to the Shadow Realm!  Love was for the weak…or at least the less socially challenged.  Bakura didn't like people, and it would always be that way.  At least he didn't steal anymore.

"I thought you said you would watch over her?"  A voice beside him demanded, startling the tall man out of his thoughts.

Throwing a look at his best friend, Bakura shrugged.  "She woke up long enough to drink some wine.  She'll live."  He said in a bored tone.

The blond man, who was carrying a bucket water and a wrapped basket of what Bakura knew was food, sighed in annoyance, handing the bucket to his broad-shouldered friend.  "You're empathy astounds me."  Malik muttered dryly, walking past Bakura into the tent.

Bakura snickered, following him inside, setting the water bucket down by the entrance.  "I wasn't aware I even had any."  He retorted, making his way towards his sleeping pallet on the far side of the tent.

Malik snorted and headed straight towards the sleeping girl that was situated on his bed.  Placing a hand against her forehead, he sighed when it felt cool against the back of his hand.  "She doesn't have a fever."  Malik said, backing away, finally setting down the basket of food on the small table Bakura had been eating at earlier.

"I told you, she'll be fine.  She's stronger than she looks."

Malik cast Bakura a dubious glance, raising a blond eyebrow.  Did Bakura just compliment someone?

"Don't give me that look Ishtar.  I'm only stating facts.  She went seven hours with out water.  That's amazing for anyone, let along someone of her size and upbringing." Bakura growled, stretching out on his bed, arms behind his head.

Chuckling, Malik shook his head and sat down at the small table, pulling the food out of the basket.  "Whatever you say."

Bakura watched his friend for a few minutes.  He ate silently, his concentration seemingly fully on his meal, but every now and then his gaze wandered and landed on the peaceful face of the sleeping woman.  Yawning, Bakura smirked, rolling over so his back faced the small lantern that sat on the table and lit the tent.  "Look at it this way," He said, his smirk growing.  "At least you wont have to go get her."

He was smugly satisfied when he heard Malik choke on his food.  Ah, the pleasantness of being right.

Tea woke to find herself alone in the tent.  Once again overwhelming thirst over took her and she looked around desperately to find where the water was kept.  She did not have to look far however, as on the table a cup was already laid out, water filled to the brim.  Tea practically jumped out of bed –stumbling as she did so- and grabbed at the cup, splashing water on her hands.  She struggled not to gulp it down –she had read somewhere that gulping large amounts of water actually made dehydration worse- and instead drank it smoothly, feeling much better when she finished.  She was still thirsty but figured she better wait a bit as she did not want to make herself sick.

Just then the tent flap opened causing Tea to jump startled, whirling around to face who ever it was that walked through the entrance.  She was surprised to find a large matronly woman who smiled kindly at her and bowed respectively.  Tea flushed and bowed back, not sure what to say.  She didn't speak Arabic…

"Hello, you must be Tea no?"  The woman said in slightly broken English, grinning from ear to ear.

Tea blinked rapidly and nodded somewhat hesitantly.  "Ye-yes, I'm Tea, and you are?  You speak English?"

The woman laughed, walking fully in the tent and setting down the parcels she carried.  "I am Lira, but you can call me Momma and yes I speak English.  My husband and I spend some time in Cairo working for English consulate, require us to learn language." She said, coming over to inspect Tea.  "Lucky for you no?  I take it you no speak Arabic.  That alright, you will learn fast enough and I will help teach you."  The woman patted Tea fondly on the bottom before leaning over and taking out some pieces of clothing from one of the baskets she brought.  "Before I feed you, we get you cleaned up and into some…decent clothing yes?"

It was then that Tea noticed that she was still wearing her traveling clothes.  Her once white denim shorts were streaked with dirt and sweat, as was her tank top.  She probably smelled bad too.  However, the way the woman said decent made Tea think that 'Momma' did not entirely approve of the clothing she did wear, and not because they were dirty.  She shrugged; they apparently had different dress codes in Egypt.

"I make Malik fill basin before he leave for work so water should be warm.  Come, come child, must not waste day away.  Much for you to learn on this day."  Lira spoke briskly, ushering Tea out of the tent and over to a small curtained in area that contained a medium sized metal tub that was filled with crystal water and looked extremely inviting.  "Toilet over there, you need to use?"

Tea nodded and headed towards the outhouse that Lira pointed at.  Indoor plumbing was going to be one of the things she missed most about Japan.  After using the outhouse she hurried back to the bathing area, where she was promptly stripped of her clothing and plunked into the tub. 

The water was tepid, but the extremely warm atmosphere around it made it a refreshing temperature.  Lira wasted no time in dipping a bucket in the water and dumping it over Tea's head, causing the young woman to gasp in surprise.  The older woman quickly scrubbed Tea down, head to foot, rinsed all the soap away then pulled her out of the tub, wrapping her in a large drying material.  It wasn't the same as the towels she had back home, but it was dry and relatively soft.

"Here, I bring you some of my old clothes to wear until you get your own."  Lira said, shoving a white bundle into Tea's arms.

"Oh, but I have my own clothing!"  Tea replied, attempting to give back the clothes.

Lira shook her head adamantly.  "No, no.  Your clothes no suitable for weather, they not decent either.  You wear these."

Tea sighed, realizing that it was pointless to argue with the older woman.  The woman was obviously used to getting her own way, as most mothery types were.  Tea unfurled the bundle of clothing, revealing a simple, yet clean white dress, a dress that was very close to the one Lira wore.  "I need to get another bra from my things, may we go inside?"  She asked, looking at Lira.

Lira shook her head.  "Too many men about, men should not see woman in drying cloth.  I go get bag, it blue no?"

Tea nodded and waited as Lira went and fetched her duffle back.  Upon the woman's return, Tea fished through the bag and pulled out one of her spare bra's, fastening it quickly.  She slipped on another pair of underwear, then pulled the dress over her head.

It was surprisingly light and airy.  It was sleeveless and flowed to her ankles, having slits to her knees up both sides.  Lira nodded approvingly before slipping a simple, brown leather belt around Tea's waist and adjusting it so it would fit right.  "Tsk, you too skinny, must put some weight on you eh?"  The matronly woman clucked, chuckling.  "Why Malik like such tiny woman, I'll never know.  But you have good childbearing hips, and you good and strong.  You bear Malik many fine boys!"  Lira exclaimed, patting Tea's hips appreciatively and winking.

Tea blushed bright red.  What did the woman mean 'Malik like such tiny woman'?  Could Malik actually like her as she 'liked' him?  The woman must just be confused.  "Ahh, I think you have it wrong… Malik doesn't 'like' me as you say…" Tea stammered quietly.

The woman snorted, chuckling.  "A man does not put up such a fuss if he doesn't love a woman.  That man love you, I see it plain as day.  Now here," Lira pulled out two items from the basket that had contained the clothing she had given Tea.  "These given to me by my mother, and I have no daughters of my own to pass down to.  My son move far away and marry, not able to give to daughter in law.  I want you to have.  Malik like second son, and any woman he choose, I be proud to accept as daughter."  Lira then clasped an inch wide gold circlet to Tea's upper arm, then another around her neck.  The neckpiece was carved with intricate patterns and hieroglyphics.  Both pieces were absolutely beautiful, and must be worth a fortune.  "I can't accept these Lira!  They must be worth so much and I-" Tea pleaded.

Lira silenced her with a wave of her hand.  "You no worry about worth.  If bother you so much then think of as early wedding present.  You daughter now, and as such you now call me Momma!"

Tea smiled and gave the woman a hug.  She had only just met her and already she felt like the older woman was indeed her mother, even if they were different races.  Tea's ethnic background didn't seem to bother the woman one bit.  "Thank you…Momma."  Tea said, bowing her head in gratitude.

Lira grinned widely and tapped Tea's cheek affectionately.  "That a good girl!  Now, men come back for lunch soon, you must have lunch ready to give them.  No fear, I make food for you today."

Tea stared for a moment in shock.  She was expected to prepare them meals?  She bit her lip.  She knew coming here to stay would be a life change, and going from a modernized society where women were equal to men to a society where women were still subject to their husband's commands was a definite culture shock.  Was she willing to make such a sacrifice? 

The answer came quick with out any hesitation.  Yes.  She would make any sacrifice needed to be with him.  She had already given up her friends and family, what was her independence?  She was sure, if Malik really felt for her as Lira claimed he did, she wouldn't mourn the loss some minor freedoms.

Of course the fact that she had absolutely no idea how to cook Egyptian food, or even what they ate was besides the fact.  "Um…I don't really know to cook Egyptian food…" Tea stammered nervously, earning a chuckle out of the older woman.

"Fear not child, I teach you.  You learn many things before Momma done with you."  Lira winked.  "Now come, we feed you before your man come back and you feed him and his no good friend their lunch."  Even thought the woman had practically insulted the tall albino, there was no malice in it, only joking affection.  It was clear that the matronly woman felt the same way about Bakura as she did about Malik.  Tea chuckled into her hand; she was really beginning to like Lira.

Malik and Bakura made their way back to their home, well worked, but satisfied.  They had worked hard that morning and had another four to five hours of work ahead of them.  Neither minded, however, and actually enjoyed the hard work.  It got their minds off their pasts and made them feel needed, and full of pride.  But, after a hard mornings work, they didn't exactly look forward to eating day old bread and cold meat.

"What was left over from last night?"  Bakura asked gruffly as they approached the tent.

Malik shrugged.  "Some bread…meat…cheese."  He replied.  His mind wasn't on the food he was about to eat, it was on the woman that now inhabited the small space.  He had spent a rather uncomfortable night on the ground.  He hadn't wanted to, but he didn't want to invade her personal space, especially when he wasn't entirely sure why she was here.  It just wasn't normal for someone to trek halfway around the world for nothing.  He needed to talk to her; it was obvious her being here had to do with him, but what she wanted he didn't know.  His heart beat furiously in his chest at his next thoughts.  Could she have possibly come because she felt the connection too?

When he first met her, disguised as Namu, he had instantly felt a bolt of electricity run through him.  Their eyes met and something clicked.  Malik's whole world came crashing down.  It was in that instant that his defeat became assured.  Things began to spiral down, and as hard as he tried to fight it, to remain true to his plans, he found his thoughts consumed with the vision of a auburn haired goddess, rather than the Pharaoh's downfall.  After his defeat at the hands of the Pharaoh he disappeared, leaving his goddess behind.  He was determined to start over, built a new life from the dirt up.  And when he had built or bought his own home, had a steady job, and enough money to buy her the ring and wedding she deserved, he would go back to Japan and show her all the things he had accomplished –cleanly- and beg her to love him.  Yes, Malik Ishtar would have begged.

But then, just as he was nearing his goal the object of his goal shows up on his doorstep, travel worn and half dead.  He had almost died of a heart attack, and he planned to thoroughly lecture her on her neglect of her own health.

They finally reached their tent home and Malik paused, allowing his larger friend to enter first out of custom.  But as he entered behind him he ran straight into Bakura's back, as the man stopped abruptly.  "Bakura why-" Malik cut himself off as he stepped around the albino and looked at what had caused Bakura to stop so abruptly.  When he did he found his own jaw dropping and his eyes widening.

The small space had been completely rearranged to maximize what space there was.  No longer was there various items and clothing strewn everywhere, and both the beds were made.  Their small table was set up with two plates stacked steaming food.  Cutlery lay perfectly in place beside them, and cups filled with some liquid were placed above them.  Most surprising, however, was not the clean environment, or the hot meal but the woman who was leaned over, picking up articles of clothing, adding to the growing pile in her arms.  When she stood up and turned around, her eyes falling on the two men, her face flushed bright red and she suddenly found her feet incredibly interesting.  Malik's heart stopped. 

She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.  Lira must have given her new clothing because she was dressed in traditional Egyptian clothing, consisting of a loose white, sleeveless dress, gartered with a simple brown belt, her feet bare.  Her hair was pulled back into a short ponytail at the back of her head, her bangs falling in her face.  Gold ornaments adorned her arm and neck, and small hoop earrings were threaded through her ears.  

Malik stared openly and it was only when Bakura snorted in amusement and moved to sit down.  Malik snapped out of his daze, ducking his head to cover the light flush that crossed his cheeks.  He headed straight for the seat across from Bakura and sat down with out a word.

Bakura started to eat, recognizing instantly Lira's cooking.  His eyes shifted from his plate to the man in front of him, who was shoveling food in his mouth like it was his last meal, a light blush gracing his cheeks.  Bakura's mouth tilted into a smirk as his eyes moved from the blond man to the woman who was now moving around, picking up more pieces of clothing, while sneaking glances at Malik.  This was highly entertaining.  Bakura wondered just how long they were going to tip toe around each other.  But he would enjoy watching them.

Malik was far less amused by the whole situation.  He had never felt so nervous in his entire life!  It was stupid.  She was just a woman, a woman that invaded his home and his space, why was she throwing him off so bad?  A scowl grew on his face.  She wasn't just going to show up in his life, turn it upside down and leave!  If she thought that she was going to get away so easily, she had another thing coming.  I'm not letting her go…not again.

By the time Malik pulled himself out of his plots he and Bakura had both finished eating and Tea was nowhere in sight.  Smirking Bakura gulped down the wine from his cup and stood.  "Quit your pining and come on.  If you want to keep the job you got to impress her we better get back to it."  Bakura snickered heading for the exit.

Malik snorted.  Pining indeed.  But as his eyes shifted around the tent he saw that the object of his thoughts was nowhere in sight. 

"She took the laundry outside.  She might just be worth keeping around, and if you don't bed her I will."

The comment earned Bakura a solid punch to the shoulder and a heated glare.  "You'll keep your whoring hands off of her."  Malik growled, pushing his friend out of the tent.

Bakura laughed heartily, enjoying every second of Malik's ire.  "I don't know… she is rather…tasty looking.  I think she'd come around if I worked at it a bit."  He grinned evilly, glancing over his shoulder at the blond.

"Bakura…" Malik warned in a low growl.

The albino's grin grew feral, but even he knew he was nearing the line.  "Che.  So touchy, you need to get laid.  Just fuck her and get it over with!"  He couldn't resist.  Bakura knew very well that the comment would more than likely push Malik over the edge but he had to say it, the look on the blond's face was priceless!

Sure enough seconds later Bakura found himself on the ground, a pissed of Malik on top of him throwing punches.  Bakura winced as one of Malik's hits got through his defenses and landed soundly on his jaw.  Maybe that last comment was a bit over board…

A female shout sounded from a short distance away and soft feet padded towards them. 

"Malik!  Malik, get off of him!"  A female voice commanded firmly, as soft arms wrapped around Malik's bare shoulders from behind.  "I don't care if he deserved to be pounded into oblivion, you are suppose to be at work!  Not fighting your best friend!"

Malik immediately stopped as the arms tightened around his neck and pulled him backwards, causing him to land soundly on his bottom.  He looked up to see Tea standing over him looking the very picture of a vengeful goddess with her hands firmly planted on her hips and her eyes trained on him sternly.

Violet met cerulean and the world rocked.  Sparks flew.  Instantly Malik was on his feet, crushing his mouth to hers in earth shattering, possessive kiss.  Tea melted against him, kissing him back with everything in her.  Her hands ran up his bare chest, drawing circles on his collarbone.

"Aten! Qamar!"  A loud voice barked, and Malik all but jumped back from Tea. 

They looked over to see Lira, hands on her hips, glaring at the two young men.  She said something in Arabic that Tea did not understand before waving her hand dismissively.  "Come along Matana, I teach you to clean laundry now."  Lira motioned at Tea, a small smile tilting the corners of her mouth at the young woman's bright red face.

Tea moved to follow the older woman but a hand on her arm stayed her.  "We talk tonight."  Malik growled in her ear before releasing her and stalking off behind a laughing Bakura.

Tea's heart fluttered as she watched him, in all his glory, run up behind the slightly taller man and smack him upside the head, earning a smack of his own.  She sighed wistfully, running her fingers over her kiss bruised lips.  He kissed her.  She wanted to jump up and down with joy.

"Matana!  No time to daydream, you do that when no work left to be done!  You learn now how to be good wife."  Lira called impatiently.

The auburn haired girl sighed and headed towards her new teacher, intending to learn how to clean her new 'family's' laundry.

She was dead on her feet, but at the same time was driven by a sort of nervous energy.  True to her word, Lira had taught Tea how to do laundry the hard way.  However, Tea never realized just how much work doing laundry by hand actually was.  It took hours and by the end her hands were raw and pruney.  Lira laughed at her and exclaimed "you get use to fast", Tea was less amused, but grinned and bore it.  After all it was for Malik's sake.  He was more likelier to accept an able bodied woman that is willing to work than a slacker.

Laundry wasn't the only thing Lira taught her that day.  She also learned to cook a simple Egyptian meal that she hoped the two men would like.  She never was a great cook, but Lira assured her that it was fine and that she would get better with practice.  Everything was about practice with Lira, practice and work, but one couldn't help but love the woman.  She practically demanded love.

Tea was currently fidgeting with the dishes that were set out on the table.  Each of the three plates was covered to preserve the heat of the food on the plate.  The meal she prepared was simple, but she was proud of it.  It was an Egyptian dish called 'Bamia', which was basically a beef and ocra casserole.  She had also helped bake the bread that sat in a basket in the middle of the small table –all food was made at Lira's up the street as the two men didn't have a stove or anything to cook with.  Three cups were set up, already filled with water –minus Bakura's who Lira informed her only drank wine with meals.  Now she was just waiting for the two men to return home from work.  That was why she was nervous.

Even though she had seen each of them more than once since she arrived, she hadn't really talked to either of them.  And now she was going to be alone with both of them…two men she hadn't seen in five years when both were considered evil and threats to the world's safety.

It was slightly daunting and extremely nerve racking.

Tea wanted to run and busy herself while the two ate dinner.  She didn't really want to sit there and watch them eat…especially if it was bad or unsatisfactory.  She would die.  Literally.  However, Lira told her that it was tradition that a woman took the evening meal with her man…and whoever he decided to invite for it. 

Lovely. 

So she was stuck eating with them, which really wouldn't be so bad if she didn't have her and Malik's 'talk' looming over her head as well.  One she could take, but both…it was going to drive her mad! Sighing dramatically, Tea decided that the table settings were as perfect as they were going to get.  Her ears perked up. 

Someone was approaching the tent.

She took a big breath and steeled herself in determination.  Stepping outside of the tent she waited, watching the two large men approach.  Tea had to smother a small gasp that wanted to break free at the sight of them, at the sight of him.

Once again she found herself stunned by his sheer beauty.  It was almost dark by then, but the filtered sunlight of dusk somehow made Malik seem even more ethereal and godlike.  Shadows were cast over his hair and tanned skin, but it didn't seem to matter, night or day, he was beautiful.  His eyes caught hers then, and immediately the conversation between himself and his best friend ceased.  He simply stared, his lavender gaze unwavering as he came closer and closer.

Bakura's lips twitched in amusement as Malik's voice suddenly cut off.  He knew what had caused the sudden stop in conversation, but still flicked his crimson eyes towards the tent.  Sure enough the small woman was standing there, wringing her hands nervously and staring at Malik as if he was Ra's gift to men.  He snorted.  Soon he was going to have little brats running under foot.  Goody.

"Hello woman."  Bakura stated, smirking and ruffling Tea's hair slightly as he passed her to enter the tent.

Tea batted at his hand, scowling.  Didn't he know she had just fixed it!  Stupid, arrogant… Her train of thought washed away however, when a faint brush of a finger trailed down her cheek.  She flushed bright red and cautiously turned her eyes up to the blond that was looking down at her with dark lavender eyes.  She shuddered slightly.  That look…he almost looked like his yami.

Eyes lightning somewhat, Malik's cheeks heated up faintly.  His heart was pounding against his ribcage and it was taking every ounce of will power he hand not to kiss the breath right out of her.  No!  Slowly…I must talk to her first…not…scare her.  He chanted in his head.  Taking a shallow breath he plastered a small smile on his lips and murmured, "Tea," before continuing into the tent, following Bakura's footsteps.

Tea's heart deflated as he passed her with nothing more than a murmur of her name.  Damn, I really thought he was going to kiss me…oh well.  She sighed, kicking some sand at her feet.

"Hey, I'm hungry, get in here damn it!"  Bakura growled, popping his head out of the tent and glaring at her.

She jumped in surprised then whirled and glared at the white haired man.  "Sorry."  She muttered tersely, pushing him aside and entering the tent.

Bakura grinned evilly, allowing her to push him out of the way.  Ahh, there was the backbone she had lacked the night before.  Tea was still Tea.  Good.  He didn't think he could handle her if she had turned into some simpering female over the years.

Contrary to what he told his hikari when he left, he did respect at least one of the Pharaoh's friends.  He would even go as far as to say he liked the spunky brunette, in a purely platonic way.  He found her intriguing and amusing, she was entertainment.  Oh, and she caused his blond friend no end of trouble, which had to be worth something.  He chuckled, ducking his head away from her questioning eyes.

Tea wasn't amused.  She knew Bakura was laughing at her, but she didn't know why.  Her fist clenched, struggling to fight the need to whack the infuriating man.   "Bakura-"

Malik intercepted before the scene got ugly.  He shoved Bakura aside with a glare that read 'upset her and pay' and then took Tea by the shoulders and steered her towards the table.  "Come now children, let us eat hm?"  He said dryly.  He had to ignore the tiny electric shocks that shot through his fingers and up his arm as his fingers moved over the soft, bare skin of Tea's shoulders.  So smooth…

Tea shuddered under his touch, mourning the loss of it as he sat her down in the spare chair Lira had given them for her to use.  The two men soon joined her, uncovering their food and picking up their utensils.  Tea did the same, but instead of eating right away, she paused and discreetly watched the two eat, waiting in angst to see their reaction.

"Lira didn't cook this."  Bakura stated, the first to notice the difference in styles of cooking.  His crimson eyes landed on the fidgeting and nervous Tea.  His eyebrow shot up questioningly, however, he didn't stop eating.

"A-a-ah, no…I-Lira taught me how to make a simple meal so I…I made it."  She murmured quietly, face bright red.

Intriguing.  Bakura thought.  How she could go from spitfire one moment to nervous wreck the next was amusing.

Malik smiled at her, swallowing some of the food.  "It's very good." He said, with a kick to Bakura's shin.

Bakura grunted, tilting his head towards her.  "Not bad." 

A rush of relief washed over her and finally Tea was able to relax a bit.  That was one obstacle out of the way.  At least she wasn't a total dud in the kitchen!  Picking up her fork she began to eat cheerfully. 

As soon as dinner was finished Tea stood and began to collect the dishes.  Before the meal she had prepared a tub of water and soap so she could clean up the dishes.  However, as she was piling the plates a firm hand landed on her wrist, fingers curling over the surface.  Once again she felt the electric shock, just as she had when he touched her shoulders.  Startled she turned her wide, blinking eyes towards the person that held her wrist.  He was staring at her again, as if all he wanted to do was take her then and there but was fighting it.  Her breath caught in her throat.

"We talk.  Now."  He commanded, his voice containing an almost primal edge to it.

"Bu-but the dishes!"  She stuttered back, eyes nervously pivoting to the dishes on the table.

Malik's eyes narrowed imperceptibly.  Then with out breaking his gaze on her, he said to the figure lounging in the shadows, "Bakura.  Do the dishes.  Tea and I are…going out."

A grunt was his only answer, before he pulled the stunned Tea out of the tent and into the darkness.

He led her through a maze of streets in the direction of where Tea thought the river was.  The only time she got the courage up to ask her where they were going he merely grunted at her and slipped his hand down to clasp her own gently.  She gave up trying and just let him lead her.  Soon enough they arrived beside the small river.  Cement dikes had been built up along its banks to better direct the flow.

Malik came a stop just beside the railing that ran along the cement dikes.  He dropped her hand, reaching up and fingering the gold band on her upper arm and neck.  "Lira gave you her only jewelry.  Her family heirlooms…" he whispered, running the tip of his index finger over her collarbone and down her arm.

"Ye-yes.  I tried to tell her not to…but she wouldn't listen.  She said I'm her new daughter."  Tea replied, her voice just as low as his.

He chuckled.  "She is like that.  It pleases me she has taken to you so quickly."  After the simple statement he fell silent, a small frown tugging at the corner of his lips.

Both refused to meet each other's eyes and it was only when Malik turned away to lean on the railing that Tea fully looked at him.  He was staring out at the other half of the city that lay on the other side of the river.  The moon overhead played with the pale strands of his white-blond hair causing it to shimmer and glimmer under the iridescent light.  She stood quietly, content in watching him until he was ready to bring up the tender subject that they were there to discuss.

"Why are you here?"  He asked suddenly, after many minutes of silence.  He still didn't look at her, but there was an urgency, a fear underlying in his voice.

Tea was at a loss for words.  She knew this question would come eventually, and all day had prepared answers, however, in the instant he asked the question all replies flew from her head.  She didn't know what to say, but wanted so badly to say something that would not cause him to push her away.  "I just had to."  Was what she came up with.

"Why?"  He immediately shot back, this time turning to face her. 

His face was emotionless, carrying a guarded look, and Tea could swear, in that instant, he reverted back to Battle City Malik.  He looked so serious and severe.  She had to wonder slightly what he was thinking about.  "I…" She suddenly found her feet very interesting, and her poor hands were feeling the consequences of her nerves.

Malik frowned at her nervousness.  She was afraid…but why?  "Stop that."  He commanded, reaching out and prying her hands apart.  As with all the other times he had touched her a current ran through him, why did he feel so alive when he touched her?  It felt so right…like she already belonged to him.  Mine… "You feel it too…" he whispered, stepping closer to her, rubbing his fingers over the back of her left hand softly.

She jumped a bit, trying to pull away.  "Feel…what?"  She stammered quietly.

"This…" He replied, moving his hand up her arm, allowing his palm to brush over the smooth skin until it settled on her neck.  Her shudder told him all he needed to know.  His other hand came up and hooked under her chin, lifting her gaze to his.  "Please say you feel it…" His voice was husky with want, with need and his face was getting progressively closer to her own, his lips seeking the one place they seemed destined to dwell forever.

Tea was about to melt into a puddle of goo at his feet.  How did he do it?  He had barely touched her, yet it seemed as if he had been touching her for her entire life, that he was meant to touch her.  Was this what he meant by feeling it?  The feeling that he owned her soul with out ever making a claim to it?  If so, then she felt it the moment she laid eyes on him.  There was a connection between them that ran deeper than lust or hormones.  "I…"

"Please…" His breath fanned over her lips and his darkened lavender eyes bore into her cerulean ones, imploring her to answer.

"I feel it…"

The faint whisper was all the encouragement Malik needed before his lips closed the millimeters between their lips.  The earth shook once again and Tea swayed on her feet, leaning against Malik's hard body for support.  He wasted no time wrapping an arm around her waist to steady her, and at the same time pull her flush against him.

His tongue ran over her bottom lip seeking entrance to the warm cavern of her mouth and was admitted immediately.  He dipped, tasted, and explored every inch of her, reveling in her sweetness.  He was drowning hard and he was drowning fast. 

He tasted of sunshine and work.  A taste that was purely male, but at the same time a taste that belonged only to him.  She had only kissed two other people in her twenty years, Yami, and Ryou and neither had tasted like he did, and neither were anywhere near as good as he was.  Ryou was sweet and timid, but lacked the spark and smoothness Malik had.  Yami just lacked the passion, she wasn't the one for him, she knew that the moment he kissed her.  But Malik…Malik was different.  He made her feel wanted, made her feel loved.

Eventually they had to pull a part for air and both stood gasping, staring at each other in awe.  "You…Why did you come here Tea?  The truth."  Malik demanded shaking his head and raking a hand through his bangs.  He didn't relinquish his hold on her waist though.

"I…" She tore her gaze away from his demanding one and lowered her head so that her bangs obscured her eyes.  "I…I came to find me…."

Malik frowned, puzzled at the cryptic answer.  However, something fluttered in his chest.  A little flame of hope, lit up in his heart as he slowly thought over her words.  Could she possibly mean…?  "And…?"

"…I found you."

The small flame turned into a blazing inferno.  Her answers were confusing, but part of his brain was wrapping around the logic.  She came here to find herself…herself meant her heart…and she found him… that meant…  "I meant to come back for you."  He stated, finally sure of her reasons for being in Egypt.

The statement caused her to jerk her head up and stare at him in surprise.  Her mouth opened and closed, resembling a fish.  Malik chuckled, running a finger over her bottom lip.  "Don't look so surprised.  You felt it…the connection between you and I.  I felt it the moment I laid eyes on you."

Her eyes moved away again.  "I felt it.  It's why I traveled across the world just to see you."

"Do I mean so much?"  His voice was serious; losing the amused edge it held only seconds before.

"More."

The answer surprised him.  Sure he had entertained the dreams that she might one day return the feelings he harbored deep with in his heart, but he really never thought that she would have come all the way across the world to tell him so.  He was supposed to go get her…to show her all he had accomplished, cleanly.  "It is all for you, you know."  He said lowly, finally pulling away from her and turning his back.  "The job…the money…eventually the house.  I wanted to come back to you and show you that I wasn't just a criminal."

Tea tilted her head to the side, watching him hang his head and jam his hands in his pockets.  Her eyebrows tilted up just over her eyes, her eyes swelling with tears.  Shaking her head she launched herself at his back, wrapping her arms around his narrow waist and burying her face into the thin shirt he had donned just after dinner.  "I never thought you were a criminal."  She whispered into his back.  "You were just…confused…misled.  Your yami corrupted what you really were."

Malik stiffened in her embrace, his chin touching his chest.  His eyes moved over her joined hands on his stomach.  "I-"

"No Malik, listen to me!"  Tea exclaimed, pulling back and whirling him around to face her.  "I love you no matter what you are!"  As the words flew out of her mouth she gasped, slapping a hand over her mouth and taking a step back.  She couldn't believe she just said that!

Malik's head snapped up and he stared at her with wide eyes.  Did she just say…just say that…she… He swallowed, reaching out to her.  "You love me…?"  He whispered.

She glowed with embarrassment, shying away from his hand.  "I…yes.  Yes, I do."  Here it was, the moment of truth.  He either accepted her or rejected her.  It all came down to this moment.

Suddenly he started laughing, throwing his head back and letting the joyous sound escape his lips.  Then, just as tears were gathering in Tea's eyes, all hope for his returning love dead, he all but hopped the distance between them and picked her up by the waist and twirled her around. 

As she was started to get dizzy and extremely confused his lips found hers once more and he proceeded to show her his answer to her blurted confession.  He was so happy he thought his heart would burst.  She came all the way to Egypt to find him because she loved him.  She loved him!  Malik swore he could hear angels singing somewhere.

"Malik!"  Tea exclaimed in shock as he pulled his lips from her, grinning from ear to ear.

He leaned down and nuzzled his nose against hers, sweeping kisses across her cheek and temple.  "This means your mine?  Mine forever?"  The eagerness in his voice as he cuddled and nuzzled her melted her surprise instantly.  He sounded like a child who had just got a new toy. 

Her eyes softened and hesitantly she reached up and tangled her fingers into the messy blond locks that hung down his back.  "Yours forever…I want nothing more."  She whispered in reply, leaning her head against his.

Malik closed his eyes, breathing in her scent.  The scent of his woman.  The last missing piece filled his fractured soul, completing it and making it whole again, he piece that had been missing ever since the creation of his dark half.  The world seemed right again.  "Come on!"  He exclaimed, grinning like a little boy on Christmas morning.  He pulled away, grasping her hand firmly in his own.  "There is so much I want to show you of my home…of our home."

Tea giggled, happiness radiating off her.  She was going to like Egypt, for all it's heat and backwards ways.

The pair toured the large village, Malik pointing out significant sights and places, chatting adamantly about the plans for the future he held.  He showed her the housing block he wanted to build in –it was not too far on the other side of Lira's- and showed her the house he spent his early childhood in…before he was moved to the catacombs of the Pharaoh's tomb. 

After touring for a couple of hours and sitting at the rivers edge for a couple more, it had grown late and Malik decided they should return home as he had to work in the morning, and she had to wake early for more lessons from Lira.

Malik held the flap open for Tea as both stepped into the dark interior of the tent.  Tea squinted into the darkness, searching the small space for Bakura's form.  She found it stretched out on his pallet sleeping soundly.  She giggled lightly, who knew she would be living with the former tomb robber?

"Do not giggle too much, he is a very light sleeper and is very cranky when woken unnecessarily."  Malik whispered, placing a small hand on her back to guide her through the darkness.  "Get changed into bed clothes, then come outside and brush your teeth."

Tea nodded and headed for her bag.  He disappeared out of the tent again while she got changed, being sure to look over her shoulder to make sure Bakura was still sleeping.

Soon both had finished their pre-bed ritual and now stood beside Malik's bed, or rather Tea stood, shifting anxiously, and Malik sat on the edge watching her, a smirk tilting his lips.  "Come here."  He said, pulling her towards him so that she stood between his knees.  "Kiss me?"

She smiled, more than willing to comply with his wishes as she leaned down and pressed a firm kiss to his mouth.  He moaned lightly in the back of his throat, deepening her kiss.

"Oh for the love of Ra!  Go. To. Bed!"  Bakura growled sleepily from his pallet, tossing a small pillow at them  "Tomorrow I get my own tent…" He muttered, stuffing his head under another pillow.

The auburn haired girl giggled again, burying her face against Malik's neck to smother them.  Malik smirked, knowing full well that Bakura wasn't going anywhere.  He also knew that his surly friend was right, and that they needed to sleep.  He grunted, pushing her away slightly so he could swing his legs up onto the bed.  "Come on woman."

She stood there awkwardly, not really sure what he wanted her to do.  Grunting again, he scooped her off her feet and deposited her on the bed beside him.  Then lying down he gathered her in his arms and dropped a kiss on the back of her neck.  "Goodnight woman…Tea."

"Mmm…night Malik-anata."

5 years later

Ryou smiled as took in the scene in front of him from behind his expensive American sunglasses.

A very pregnant Tea was leaned over a laundry bin, taking out damp clothing and hanging them on a line that was strung between two posts that were four feet away from each other in front of a modest sized house.  Like most houses on the block, or in the village, the house had no yard to speak of, but judging from the clothes line and several scattered chairs around the front, they had a small yard.  It hadn't changed much in the three years since he visited last.

Malik leaned against the doorjamb of the open front door watching Tea like a hawk, ever ready to swoop down and intercept her if he felt she was over taxing herself.  Apparently that time was now because in the blink of an eye he was at her side, stopping her actions by tugging the article of clothing out of her hands and dropping it back into the tub.  He said something to her in low Arabic, frowning and motioning with his hands at the line.  She shook her, pushing at his hands and scowling.  Just then a bustling, matronly woman scurried onto the scene and plucked the tub up out of Tea's reach and took it over to the other side of the clothes line and began to hang the clothing up –much to Tea's apparent disgust.  Ryou remembered the older woman…her name was Lira.

Then out of the house strode a tall, confident Bakura.  The sight of him made Ryou chuckle under his breath.  Perched on the tall Egyptians shoulders was a little girl about two years old with chin length white-blond hair and wide cerulean eyes, grasping clumps of his hair with her small, chubby hands.  Bakura, surprisingly, looked only mildly annoyed at having the child clinging to his head.  Upon sight of Malik however, the little girl reached out for the man and was met with wide-open arms as Malik lifted the little girl off his best friends shoulders.  Bakura smirked, leaning over and tickling the little girl who giggled and tried to worm closer to her father, away from Bakura's tickling hands.

Tea smiled at the little girl and stepped into the shelter of Malik's other arm, wrapping her arms around him.  Her, Malik, the little girl and Bakura looked the very picture of a perfect family.  A smile lit up Ryou's face.

"So she truly is happy."

The low voice caused Ryou to turn his head to see his five –six- traveling companions falling into step around him.  Yami had a serious look on his face, but from the look in his eyes Ryou could tell he was happy for Tea and the joy she found in his former enemy.  Yugi stood just behind his darker half, watching the scene with as much interest as Ryou, tears shining in his amethyst eyes.  Just behind him stood Seto and Serenity who was holding their first child –a little boy who looked like a spitting image of his father- and a grown up Mokuba.

"Yes, yes she is."  Ryou replied, turning back in time to catch Tea's eyes.

Her cerulean eyes lit up with even more joy and she shouted, running towards him.  "Ryou-chan!  Yami, Yugi!"  Tears were running down her cheeks as she reached them, flinging her arms around Ryou first, then Yami and Yugi, finally Serenity who passed the baby to Seto.

Yami hugged Tea again after she had finished hugging everyone –ignoring the suspicious look Malik threw him.  Five years and the man still got jealous.  His eyes ran over her pregnant form, confirming a fact he had been wondering about for five long years since he got the word from Ryou that Tea had run off to Egypt to find Malik. 

Miss Tea Gardener –now Mrs. Malik Ishtar- was as happy as he had ever seen her, Yugi confirmed the fact.  He smirked, holding out his hand for Malik to shake.  At least he wouldn't be sending anyone to the Shadow Realm that day.